In Our Wake

Pheidippides, an ancient Greek messenger, is said to have died after he ran from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens without rest to deliver the news of Greek victory.


Inspired by the fable of Pheidippides, modern marathons endeavor to push the human body to its limits. Runners now compete for the fastest times in the 26.2-mile races, which have since become large sporting events easily accessible to the general public. And to ensure no runner meets the same fate as Pheidippides, race organizers and volunteers provide food, water and medical aid to runners every set distance.


But in chasing the dream of the fastest marathon run, we leave behind a mountain of waste that runners and fans alike often turn a blind eye to.


The following images are from the 35th Los Angeles Marathon, held Sunday, March 8, 2020, one of the last sporting events before the coronavirus pandemic forced many cities across the United States to implement stay-at-home orders, including Los Angeles.

Clothes litter the starting line in the Dodger Stadium parking lot as their owners run 26.2 miles towards the finish line in Santa Monica.

Marathon staff, volunteers and members of the media welcome the first few runners to cross the finish line and prepare to give out medals to thousands more to follow.

Left: Ethiopian runner Bayelign Teshager wins the men's race with a time of 2:08:25 in his marathon debut.

Right: Kenyan distance runner Margaret Muriuki (left) celebrates winning the women's race with a personal best of 2:29:27.

Left: Meanwhile, the tail end of the race struggle to keep with the pack.

Right: Runners take a break to drink water and apply ice packs to sore muscles.

Volunteers hand out drinks and fruit to runners near the 22-mile marker in the marathon course.

Discarded paper cups and yogurt pouches line the side of the road.

An assortment of trash, some from the marathon and some not, litter the San Vicente Boulevard section of the marathon course.

A procession of street cleaning vehicles clear the 26.2-mile course of litter as the race comes to an end and streets start reopening.

Runners at the finish line use hand sanitizer dispensers as the threat of COVID-19 looms in the air. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city's 'safer at home' order restricting or closing most restaurants, bars and retail stores Sunday, March 15, a week after the marathon.

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